James Tubbs was the finest maker from family of bow makers founded by Thomas Tubbs, James’ grandfather. Thomas was a pupil of James or Edward Dodd, of an equally distinguished English bowmaking family. James Tubbs was taught by his father William, Thomas’ son. Born in 1835, he opened his own business at 18 Great Windmill St, moving to 5 Church St, 53 Greek St, 39 King St and finally 47 (subsequently renumbered 94 Wardour St.), all within London’s West End. In around 1858 he began working with William Ebsworth Hill, but the two men parted company in a dispute following the 1862 London International Exhibition, in which Hill entered two bows branded with his own name, but made by Tubbs. Tubbs went on to be appointed bow maker to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1874, and from 1878 made bows to be given as prizes by the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, which he did every year until 1909. He won prize medals in his own right at the 1885 London Exhibition. He retired briefly at the end of the 1880s, but returned to his Wardour Street shop after the death of his son Alfred in 1909. He died in 1921.
His work is highly distinctive, successfully integrating the best of English and French traditions, with dark stained sticks branded Jas. Tubbs.
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